In their Week 1 matchup, the Chiefs defeated the Texans on a beautiful day in Houston, essentially wrapping the game up before halftime. The Chiefs led 27-9 at the break, and coasted for most of the second half, even though the Texans made it close late in the game, so the outcome was pretty close to my original prediction here. Some notes about the game are below:
Alex Smith led the Chiefs with 243 passing yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions. He joins Len Dawson, Joe Montana, and Steve Bono as the only Chiefs’ QBs to pass for 3 TDs and 0 interceptions in a season opener. His QB rating for the game was 118.6, which currently ranks #6 in the NFL and perhaps more importantly, #1 in the AFC West. None of Smith’s TDs were thrown to a wide receiver, marking 617 days since their last WR catching a TD pass.
Travis Kelce was a beast, catching 2 TDs and racking up 106 receiving yards, which was the 4th-highest total in the NFL so far. Jamaal Charles, who had 57 rushing yards, also added a TD reception to go along with his 46 receiving yards. New Chief Jeremy Maclin looked solid, catching 5 passes on 9 targets for 52 yards with no drops.
Marcus Peters, the Chiefs first round draft pick, intercepted a Brian Hoyer pass on his first defensive snap in the NFL, and almost caught another later in the game. He was beaten on both of the Texans TD passes to Deandre Hopkins, but they were very good passes and Peters looks like the steal of the draft.
Justin Houston started earning his $101 million paycheck with a sack and strip, along with 3 tackles and several pressures, including one on the first play of the game that led to Marcus Peters’ interception. Joining Houston was Allen Bailey, who finished with 2 sacks, 4 tackles, and 1 fumble recovery from Houston’s strip sack.
One of the unsung heroes of the game was return man De’Anthony Thomas, who had 5 punt returns for 81 yards (16.2 avg – 5th-best in the NFL) and 1 rush for 9 yards. In comparison, the Texans punt returner had 4 returns for 14 yards (3.5 avg). Thomas consistently put the Chiefs in better position to score.
In a surprise move, the Chiefs announced before the game that Eric Fisher would not play, when it was previously announced that he would start at Right Tackle. In his place, newly acquired swing tackle Jah Reid started and played ok, giving up two sacks to JJ Watt and being whistled for 2 penalties. Even All-Pro tackles are going to get called for holding on Watt, so this is not a big concern, but the question remains regarding what is going on with Eric Fisher. Fisher did see a few snaps on special teams and at left tackle when Donald Stephenson left the game briefly with a finger injury.
Overall, the Chiefs looked good in every facet of the game and will likely need to do so again on Thursday night, when they host the Broncos in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have never beaten the Broncos with Peyton Manning at the helm, but the Broncos barely squeaked out a victory at home against the Ravens on Sunday and Manning threw 0 TDs with 1 interception, averaging only 4.38 yards per passing attempt. That bodes well for a Chiefs defense that feels like it is just getting started. Make sure you pack Arrowhead and bring the noise on Thursday to help the Chiefs start the season 2-0.